Can a plumber sue and win for non-payment?

I had a plumber fix my sump pump in the basement of my home. This was a year ago. The sump pump is now broken completely due to it running constantly. I had this company fix the floater which controls when the sump pump comes on. I noticed that after it was fixed it stayed on constantly. I am not an expert on them so I assumed it was running correctly, however it broke completely from running too much. This is a home that no one lives in and is only occupied when I come into town to visit family so the problem went unnoticed for some time.

When I discovered the sump pump not working I called the company that fixed it and informed them. I also informed them that the cities waste was backing up into the basement also and they were working on there part. The company said they were close and would be by within 15 minutes. They went in the basement, stayed about 15 minutes and attempted to charge me $100. They stated the sump pump was plugged in incorrectly which caused it to continuously run and break. I informed him that no one lives here and no one would unplug and sump pump as it is dangerous if you are not skilled. I informed him that it ran continuously since fixed and I assumed that was the way it was supposed to work. Then he said they snaked the basement and found roots so the $100 charge was for that. I informed them that I specifically informed the person that took my call that the cites waste was backing up into my basement. Snaking the line was pointless and I already had a warranty with another company who would have done that for

free. They also never showed me any roots they supposedly pulled. This is a company I’ve paid over $1000 to dig in my yard and remove roots so there should not be any roots that grew within a year and caused my basement to back up again anyway. I refused to pay the bill. The owner decided to curse at me in front of my children so I closed the door. Now he is threatening to sue me in court. Can he do this and, if so, what is the possibility of this company winning?

Asked on March 26, 2018 under Business Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

He can certainly file a lawsuit: anyone can file a lawsuit (the law does not "prescreen" suits to see if they are valid or worthwhile). To win, he'd have to 1) show that he did the work, and you did not pay it; but 2) you could defend against his claim by showing that work was any or all of unauthorized, not actually done (e.g. he lied about doing it), defective, or negligent (careless). If sued, you could also countersue for any costs or damage his poor work caused you.


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